Gay marriage and polygamous marriage

Rod Dreher asks: If same-sex marriage, why not polygamy? I think an excessive legalistic focus in this area confuses. Rather, if we focus on the ends then the distinctions are obvious:

– Same-sex marriage is not the human norm. Polygamy is very common, even dominant as the ideal, across human societies (at least until recently)

– Many men who would not enter into same-sex marriages because they are not homosexual in a biological sense may in fact find polygamy congenial to their biological imperatives!

Legally in terms of liberty I think one makes a good case that there isn’t that much of a difference between same-sex marriage and polygamy when you take normative Western traditions off the table. But when it comes to ends, a moderately liberal friend of mine once observed: “How come polygamous societies are always shitty societies?”

Conventional social conservatives are wont to suggest that gay marriage, and gays more broadly, threaten their way of life. As a generality I think this is wrong, because aggressive anti-heterosexual cultural radicals in the gay community are no longer dominant. And, straight people are born straight. In contrast, I do think that the polygamist is a threat to the monogamous way of life. For elite males serial monogamy is already relatively common. For underclass individuals institutional monogamy is an uncommon part of their lives. A solemnized polygamist alternative may seem attractive to many. But like law school, many males may enter with aspirations, but few exit to success, in these societies.

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